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Title: A Second Chance, Part 2(a)/4
Author: ayesakara aka [livejournal.com profile] laylafic
Universe/Series: Star Trek Reboot
Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Rating: NC-17
Relationship status: First time
Word count: 44,905 (total), 7,083 (this part)
Genre: Angst, action/adventure, drama, h/c
Tropes: Accidental bonding, breakup, mission, grief, jealousy, mindmeld, telepathy
Warnings: Heavy angst, violence/torture, trauma
Additional Pairings: Spock/Uhura, Kirk/OC
Summary: ‘An incident during a shore leave gone disastrous leaves Spock with a link he never expected with his captain—a bond he needs but which he suspects Jim never wanted. The consequences of how he deals with that ‘belief’ change everything for them.’

Continued from A Second Chance, Part 1(b)/4


A Second Chance, Part 2(a)/4




Leonard presses a button on the console, looks at the numbers scrolling and turns to his patient.

Jim looks better. The color is slowly returning to his face even if the scans are still troubling. He looks up at the doctor expectantly as if waiting for him to continue his narration. Leonard takes a deep breath.

"Twelve people died in the attack, Jim. Eight of them from the psychic field before the generator was disabled. Their minds just simply shut down." He sees a frown appear on his captain’s face. "The rest succumbed to their injuries. As a matter of fact, out of the nine people who were stuck inside the Diplomatic Enclave, so close to the source of the signal, only one survived." Leonard looks at him closely. "You."

Jim looks grave as he contemplates this for a moment. The first thing he’d done when he’d woken up was ask for Spock. Leonard figures he had some idea of what had gone down on the planet, even though he seemed to have no real memories of events. The last thing he claims he remembers is beaming down to meet with Minister Utan. After that, everything is a haze.

Jim is looking at him thoughtfully, his eyes serious. "I guess the others weren’t so lucky."

"Lucky my ass." Leonard snorts derisively, feeling a frown form between his brows as he turns to the neural scanner again. "I don’t know what that green-blooded hobgoblin did, but whatever Vulcan mumbo jumbo he used worked. He saved your life."

"He melded with me."

Leonard looks up from the scans that are seriously freaking him out. "What?"

"Mind meld." Jim looks at him. "Spock did a mind meld with me."

"Yes." Leonard growls. "Fucking Vulcan black magic. I’m still not happy with the readings I’m getting from you. Sulu and Molaris are also showing some very strange numbers, but yours are the weirdest." He looks back at the neural scanner worriedly. "Your brain scan is lighting up in places that never used to show these colors before."

Jim smiles ruefully. "Maybe this means I get to be as smart as a Vulcan now."

"Don’t even joke about it." Leonard snaps at him. "Jesus!"

"Really, Bones," Jim says, his tone placating. "It could be a lot worse and you know it."

"Yeah, I know." He grits his teeth as looks at his friend closely. "How’re you feeling, kid, honestly?"

Jim’s brows knit together in concentration, as if he is internally assessing his condition. After a moment, he shakes his head, looking pensive. "I know it sounds weird, but I actually feel good."

"Really now..." Leonard has to prompt him even if he has a very good idea of what Jim is talking about.

"Really, Bones." Jim looks at him. "I’m serious. I’m feeling good." He shrugs. "Very good, in fact."

"Yeah, well." Leonard presses his lips together. "Your neural activity would certainly corroborate what you’re saying." He presses a panel on the console, bringing up a new image of Jim’s brain. "See this part of your cerebral cortex." He points to a section on the screen that is lighting up like fireworks. "It shows all your pleasure centers are stimulated. It’s like you’re on a high, which is the strangest fucking thing in this situation." He scowls. "You’re mostly off the sedatives. Your wound is healing perfectly so there’s no need to give you anything too strong. And yet look at this." He shakes his head. "This makes you look like you’re stoned."

"I don’t feel stoned." Jim looks at him strangely. "I feel perfectly fine."

"You said you feel happy." Leonard has a nagging feeling in the back of his head, a feeling he can’t suppress. "You’re in sickbay. You’re never happy in sickbay."

"But I’m about to get out, right?" Jim stares at him. "You’re gonna release me today."

"Not until I’m absolutely sure that you’re okay." Leonard straightens up. "And you’re not going back on duty for another twenty four hours."

"Bones." Jim frowns. "I have a job to do, reports to file. An investigation to follow up on. A crime was committed under my watch, and I need to be back on my feet so that....."

"....I’m serious, Jim," Leonard raises his voice, cutting him off. "Spock’s got everything under control. You can afford to rest up for a bit."

Something changes on Jim’s face at the Vulcan’s name. "What about Spock’s brain scans?" His eyes narrow. "How come you let him go so quickly?"

Leonard waves him off. "Don’t ask me about Vulcan brains, man. M’benga would probably be able to tell you more than me. His brain looked as confusing as it always has, as far as I’m concerned. But he is fine, otherwise."

"You’re sure he’s all right?" Jim asks.

"Yeah. I don’t know how his head works, though." Seriously, understanding that sonofabitch is completely out of his fucking league. First he wouldn’t leave the sickbay, insisting he had to stay with the captain until he was out of danger. And now that Jim is up, Leonard has seen neither skin nor hide of him in hours. Either he’s too busy dealing with Fleet bureaucracy, or he is hiding somewhere silently castigating himself. Leonard turns to the captain. "The bastard’s blaming himself for all this."

"What?" Jim sits up suddenly. "Blaming himself, why?"

Leonard has to snort. Why the hell do you think? "For letting you get hurt, of course."

"That’s not his fault." Jim’s face is serious. "He’s the one who saved my life."

"Yeah well, tell him that." Leonard shakes his head. "He’s ready to pronounce himself guilty and get executed all by his lone self."

**

Jim has never felt so weirded out in his entire life.

What he told Bones was the truth. Despite his narrow escape on the planet, how close he came to almost dying, upon waking up he really did feel fine. His shoulder still hurts a little, and that is to be expected, but the wound is healing nicely. And whatever drugs Bones gave him make the pain manageable.

But the weirdness is something he can’t quite fully fathom at the moment.

He knows Spock saved his life. He knew it before Bones told him. It’s like he can still feel an echo of the meld at the back of his head. Which is similar to what he felt after the older Spock did the information dump on him down on Delta Vega. But in some ways it is not like that at all. For one thing, this meld went a lot deeper, he presumes. He doesn’t really know what Spock saw in his mind, but he figures his First Officer must have probed a lot deeper than his counterpart did all those months ago. He doesn’t remember much of what he went through, except... pain like he’d never felt before. Pain... and a swamp of thick, viscous fear, mingled with a sense of loneliness and abandonment, and betrayal that he knew was all being projected by the psychic field. All of which had suddenly been swept apart only to be replaced by a deluge of protectiveness and security, which was when he knew Spock had shown up.

But Spock had not been there when he woke up in sickbay. Bones told him Spock had stayed the whole time he’d been unconscious and had only left when the doctor had assured him Jim was out of danger and would be waking up soon. Which is strange in itself, considering Jim is still feeling as if Spock had never left at all. Like he is still there.

At the moment, however, Jim feels strangely disconnected from the whole experience. There is a gap in his memories of the meld, a fissure which Bones explained is his brain’s response to the trauma it has endured.

Which probably explains the weirded out feeling he is getting.

Though, he cannot fathom why Spock would blame himself for what happened. It is not his fault. Jim will absolutely not stand for this.

Which is why, an hour after he is released from sickbay and has freshened up and changed into new clothes, he finds himself outside Science Lab 2. This is where the computer led him when he asked for his First Officer’s location. He presses the panel to open the door and steps inside.

The room is empty, save for the lone figure of the half-Vulcan bent over a console, several padds stacked in front of him. Jim watches Spock for only a moment and knows the second his presence is noticed, because he sees Spock’s shoulders tense before the man straightens up and turns around.

"Spock," Jim greets him.

"Captain." Spock stands up and faces him. "I am... pleased to see you are recovered." His eyes are warm even if his face does not give anything away as he looks at Jim closely. "I thought the doctor would detain you in sickbay."

"Yeah, Bones just released me." Jim smiles. "Though, don’t tell him you saw me. I’m not supposed to be out of my quarters yet."

Spock tilts his head. "In this case, I would defer to Dr. McCoy’s superior medical judgment. You should be resting."

"Please, not you too," he huffs. "I’m not going back on duty yet, all right?" He looks at his First Officer. "How were they able to turn off the generator?"

"The psionic field was being generated in a circumference of three hundred and sixty seven meters around the Diplomatic Enclave," Spock replies." Mr. Scott and Mr. Chekov were able to triangulate the location of the originating signal, which was found to be located in an abandoned structure inside the Diplomatic Enclave. They had to fire phasers in a targeted beam to destroy the structure, in order to disable the field."

Jim takes it in and then asks, "What about the generator?"

"We have recovered some intact pieces of it, and have teams working on finding what we can about its origin."

"Good." Jim says, "What’s the word with Pike?"

Spock straightens up infinitesimally, shifting his arms behind his back. "He was predictably disturbed at the turn of events and is looking forward to speaking with you. As is Captain Rocci of the Potomac, whose teams assisted in our investigative measures on the planet. One native who apparently knew of the device, upon recognition by Mr. Chekov, has been taken into custody. Starfleet intelligence has been in contact with us, as they apparently have some clues about the possible whereabouts of the perpetrators of this crime."

Jim shakes his head. "Now they pay attention to us, huh? Too bad it had to take a crime of this magnitude for them to take us seriously."

Spock looks at him silently for a moment, something unreadable in his eyes. Then he says, "I have compiled my report for Starfleet and have sent it to your personal console for your perusal before it is submitted. I am available for discussion should you choose to make any changes or add any comments, or if you require my assistance with your report"

"Thank you, Mr. Spock." Jim looks at him closely. That strange look is disturbing him now and he remembers Bones’ words about Spock blaming himself. He searches his First Officer’s eyes for any sign of that uncharacteristic self-reproach. "I feel fine, Spock," he says lightly. "Perfect, actually." His tone is sincere. "Thanks to you."

And something strange happens. It’s like watching shutters falling. Spock’s expression closes off completely, his lips pressing together as he looks at Jim. "I am afraid, I do not share your belief, Captain." Jim opens his mouth to speak but Spock doesn’t let him. "I had become cognizant of a possible security breach on the planet and yet failed to act judiciously, as a result of which not only you got injured, but a number of civilians were killed."

Jim stares at his First Officer. "Spock, you ran into a psychic minefield, in the midst of a telepathic attack which was hell-bent on assaulting all sentient minds within its range, an attack against which I had no defenses, and you got me out of there." He looks into Spock’s eyes, urging him to understand. "You’re the one who saved my life."

But Spock’s face is set in stone. "If I had informed you promptly of the discussion I had with Minister Utan...."

"...it doesn’t matter anymore," Jim interrupts him.

"I beg to differ, sir." There’s a strange coldness in Spock’s voice. "If we had informed Starfleet of our findings in time, we may have been able to prevent the attack before it occurred."

"We did inform Starfleet," Jim raises his voice. "And you’d spoken to the Antaren authorities immediately."

Now Spock frowns. "I merely lodged a complaint, against which no action was taken..."

"And the next morning, I lodged a complaint with Starfleet right in front of you, after you told me of your discussion. They also took no action, remember?" Jim takes a step forward. "The fact is.... that device was already on the surface by the time you discovered the possible breach. There was nothing we could do."

"I could have done my job, Captain." He can see the self-recrimination on Spock’s face, which he knows to be completely unwarranted. "If I had done my job to the best of my abilities, all those lives could’ve been saved. You would not have gotten hurt."

"Spock, stop this." Jim takes another step. "Stop blaming yourself." He reaches out and puts his hand on Spock’s arm. "This is not your fault."

And Spock freezes. Jim watches Spock’s face tilt down, sees his eyes widen, sees his gaze slide down to Jim’s hand on his arm. He watches Spock’s face go slack, sees his lips part. He watches Spock swallow heavily as if there’s a constriction in his throat, sees his adam’s apple bob.

"Spock?" He can suddenly feel his heart thumping loudly in his chest.

But Spock says nothing. He seems frozen, his dark eyes still on Jim’s hand on his arm.

"Spock."

And Spock takes a step back, and Jim’s arm falls to his side.

"I am pleased that you are well, Captain," Spock says, his gaze averted, his face looking too pale. "I will see you on the bridge when you return to duty."

"Sure, Commander." Jim hears himself say but his voice sounds as if it’s coming from the bottom of a well. "See you."

Spock doesn’t look at him as he leaves.

**

There are degrees of guilt.

From the most trivial offense, for which one is merely chastised or given the proverbial slap on the wrist, to the most heinous crimes inflicted upon a person, for which one should be tried in a court of law and subjected to the severest punishment possible befitting the dishonor earned.

Spock knows which kind should be ascribed to him.

He knows this feeling, knows that this emotion, this sense of guilt he feels is an inherent human trait. Yet another shortcoming attributed to the deficiencies in his impure, hybrid nature. For there is no word for guilt in modern Vulcan. If he were a full Vulcan, he would not be feeling guilt. Such an emotional response would be deemed illogical. If he were a full Vulcan, he would not have made such a grave error, so as to be deemed guilty in the first place. If he were a full Vulcan, his control would never have slipped. He would never have allowed the bond to be formed this way.

Yes, there are degrees of guilt and Spock’s is the worst kind imaginable.

The incident on Antara showed him the one lone thing that could finally ease his pain. A link, a true warrior bond, with a friend, a brother, with someone who could be even more. But the bond was formed without his intended’s permission. Given a choice, Spock does not think Jim would have opted for this situation. Captain Kirk enjoys the company of females. Spock knows that, the whole ship knows that. The number of times the captain has flirted with Nyota is testament to where his preferences lie. He could not have possibly chosen Spock of his own accord, no matter how deep their friendship, their loyalty, their regard for each other. Not him, the blue-eyed, golden boy of Starfleet.

In his weakened state, in his greed, his ardent, aching hunger for a touch, any touch, Spock allowed this bond to form. The fact that he feels.... contentment, harmony, pleasure, happiness in Jim’s presence, in opening up his mind to the bond, proves he is guilty. He does not deserve any of this. He has not earned the bond.

And Jim is not the only one he has wronged.

He has caused hurt to two people he cares about the most. The beautiful, talented Nyota, the woman he was in a relationship with, and with whom he utterly failed. And Kirk. The at times brash, impetuous, bold and arrogant young captain, who has proven his intellect, his intelligence, his loyalty, his compassion, and his worth many times over.

One he could no longer bear to stand the sight of. And the other he feels he could not get enough of.

There are too many wrongs in this picture. Too many good intentions gone amiss, too many courses chosen hastily, impulsively, erroneously. He will correct one of them right now.

He presses the chime and after a moment, the door opens.

"Spock!" Nyota looks partly surprised, partly relieved to see him. He has been avoiding her since the incident on Antara and knows she has been troubled at his evasion. But he knows he cannot ignore this anymore.

"Nyota," he greets her, his face impassive. "May I come in?"

She gives him an unsure smile. "Of course." She steps back to let him come inside.

He stops in the middle of her quarters, his eyes lingering on her cherished Kikuyu sculpture on the shelf, and the intricately woven set of baskets representative of the ancient Embu people from whom Nyota’s lineage has descended. He sees her lyre on a corner table, eyes the collection of poetry books she collects on the shelf. He lets his senses fill with all these sights, knowing he has no clue when he will ever be here again.

"Have a seat."

He looks at her and feels strangely disconnected to whatever emotion he is supposed to be feeling. He knows it is remorse but he cannot seem to reach for it at the moment. "I prefer to stand."

Something lurks in her eyes, some strange, new emotion he has never witnessed in her eyes before. "Spock" She looks unsure. Nyota whom he knows to be the most confident human female he has ever met, is all of a sudden uncertain of his intentions. He has caused this. "Spock, what’s going on?"

He puts his arms behind his back, straightens up. "I wish to speak to you..." he pauses.

"You’re making me nervous, Spock," she frowns. "Speak to me about what?"

He looks at her, does not hesitate as he says, "I wish to terminate our romantic affiliation."

"Spock!"

Her mouth falls open, he sees confusion fill her beautiful eyes. But he feels strangely anesthetized to her emotions. His senses are filled with Jim. How can he relate to what she is feeling, even when he is the cause of her pain, when all he can think of is Jim? When all he can envisage is the lure of his mind, the beauty of his compassion; the compassion that soothes him and heals his hurts. The wound that had resided in his mind for so many months, bleeding and aching and throbbing, finally feels assuaged, nursed, restored to health. He needs this balm, this salve that pacifies his mind, is greedy for it.

Even though he knows he does not deserve it.

Just as he does not deserve Nyota.

"Nyota," he begins again. "I cannot continue with this anymore."

"Spock, I did something, didn’t I?" She looks stricken. "What did I do?"

"Nothing, my Nyota," he insists, feeling a tightness in his throat he forces to dispel. "You did nothing. I am simply... unable to continue with our current arrangement."

"Oh Spock, please tell me what happened." He can see tears in her eyes, and he cannot deal with this. He cannot deal with her pain.

He raises his hand as if to touch her, to comfort her, and then pulls it back. "Forgive me for causing you this hurt. I did not wish to be the cause of pain for you." He looks into her eyes and finally tells her the truth. "But I need more than our liaison can provide. I am sorry."

Understanding dawns in her eyes as she stares up at him. "Oh Spock, I don’t know what to say."

"Say nothing, tal-kam," he says softly. "For there is nothing to say. It is not your fault."

"If there’s anything...." She takes a step towards him. "If there was some way...I could try to..."

He moves backward. No! "There isn’t. You cannot. Please forgive me."

He turns around and walks out of her quarters. That feeling of numbness is all pervasive now, it fills his senses. Apparently he did not need to be blunt to tell her the truth after all.

He just needed to be numb.

And now he must extend this feeling of numbness further. He cannot taint Jim’s mind anymore with his pervasive presence. He is not sure he can sever the bond without causing either himself or his bondmate irreparable damage, but he cannot continue tasting the forbidden fruit of his bondmate’s unfettered emotions, his abundance of compassion.

Such is not his right.

The bond must be blocked.

**

Jim comes back to duty on the third day after the incident on Antara, to find Spock missing from the bridge.

It has something to do with the component they recovered from the destroyed Psychic Field Generator on Antara, on which the two science and engineering teams are busy working day and night, in order to find more clues of its origin. Or so goes the word.

Scotty is being completely territorial about what they have started calling the P-9 component and Spock has left a standing request with Jim to kindly refrain from entering Science Lab 2 where the component has been stored under quarantine as he is supposedly not allowed to ever go near it again. Because, you know, they would prefer to prevent him from coming near the device in the event it is ever accidently activated again. Even in its current dismantled state. Without the microprocessor which turns the damn thing on, that is.

As if the psychic field would differentiate between Jim’s mind and minds of the other four hundred and sixty three crewmembers that reside on the ship.

Jim would seriously roll his eyes, were he not suffering from this headache that just would not go away.

They are days away from their next stop, and Admiral Pike was no help at all when he ordered that they let him put the Potomac on the perpetrators’ tail rather than the Enterprise, because Potomac is a science vessel and supposedly better equipped to conduct such an investigation, even though it is Jim’s officers who recovered the component and it was his crew with the most information on what went down there. He argued and eventually got his way, but with a compromise. Enterprise is to conduct the investigation in collaboration with the Potomac’s team, and they will continue with the mission which was already on their schedule. All this debate had his head bursting with pain. And he hasn’t fucking slept in two whole days. Christ!

Jim closes his eyes and tentatively reaches for that echo that had stayed with him from the moment he’d woken up. That echo at the back of his head that had reminded him of safety, of protectiveness. But it’s no longer there.

All he hears is a pin drop silence.

He feels a strange despondency fill him, like nothing matters. Like there’s no purpose to anything. And what makes everything worse is that aside from their briefing sessions on the mission, Spock is nowhere to be seen. After all these months working together, Jim has gotten used to Spock’s presence on the bridge, in the commissary, in the rec room. But now he feels as if Spock is purposely avoiding him. Jim doesn’t know where this feeling comes from but he is almost certain of it. Was it because of something he did? Does Spock... feel uncomfortable because Jim touched his hand that day? His reaction seemed to suggest he does. But that is incomprehensible, utterly unacceptable. Jim is always touching Spock. He is a tactile person, he touches everyone. Besides, Spock has never objected to those gestures before. Sure he gave Jim his semi-serious glares, but he never turned away from Jim before.

Is it because of something he saw in Jim’s mind? What was it that he saw that he found so repugnant? What secret did he discover that turned him off? Is Jim’s mind that disgusting, that reprehensible, that Spock doesn’t even want to spend time with him anymore? Jim asked him to join him for lunch today and Spock declined. He never used to do that before.

Suddenly Jim feels he doesn’t have the strength to care. There is no purpose to anything. Everything is a fluke. Sometimes he feels even his captaincy is a fluke.

He doesn’t know why it took him so fucking long to come to this realization.

**

On the fourth day, Spock has just returned to his quarters for the night when his comm. screen beeps. He looks at the incoming message and realizes it is a subspace channel.

It is a message from Sarek.

He stares at the blinking screen a moment longer, wondering if he can somehow avoid it. He has a feeling that he is being irrational, that perhaps many of the decisions he has made lately are irrational, but he does not know what else to do. He knows what this is about. He also knows his father well enough to realize he will persist until he has finally spoken to Spock. There is no way he can evade this. He takes a deep, calming breath, seats himself in front of the comm. screen and presses the panel.

Sarek’s face appears on the screen.

"Father," Spock says.

"Spock." Sarek’s face looks as impassive as ever. "Are you well?"

"I am, Father," Spock replies. "How is your health?"

"I, too, am well." Sarek’s eyes seem to assess him for a moment, and then he begins, "Spock, I was appraised of the incident on Antara."

Spock keeps his face straight. "Incident, Father?"

"The matter of the psionic field device." Sarek looks at him closely, his face still solemn, though his eyes are probing Spock. "I wished to inquire about your wellbeing. I know that with the encumbrance of a broken betrothal bond, such an assault could prove difficult for a Vulcan."

Spock feels his lips pressing together as he returns his father’s stare. "I was able to effectively shield from the effects of the device, Father. My mental discipline proved adequate, you need not be concerned."

"I am aware your mental disciplines serve you well, Spock." Now he sees Sarek lift one brow, a sign he is not quite sure of what he is hearing. "However, I believe you should meet with a Healer to assess your condition."

No. Spock sits ramrod straight in his seat, and looks at Sarek impassively. He does not want a Healer. "I see no need, Father," he says. "I am quite well."

"It has been many months since we last spoke of this, Spock." Sarek looks at him seriously. "You must seek a Healer. Your bond requires a tether."

"I do not wish to speak of this," Spock says sharply and immediately he can see the perplexity on Sarek’s face, both his brows rising up. He has never spoken to his father in this tone. He immediately tilts his head and softens his tone. "Forgive me, Father, but I truly have it under control. You need not concern yourself."

Sarek looks at him closely for a few more moments. Spock is not sure his father believes him, but Sarek finally nods. "Very well. Live long and prosper, Spock."

Spock nods. "Be well, Father."

**

By the fifth day, Jim’s listlessness has become noticeable to his bridge crew.

He has been withdrawn, feeling dull and disinterested with everything, giving monosyllabic answers to the bridge queries all day. Spock is once again not at his station. Though, Jim keeps asking him to join him for his meals. The answer is always no. Politely refused, with a logically presented excuse, but refused nonetheless.

And Jim cannot even bring himself to be disappointed. For the first time in years, he feels as if he made a mistake by joining Starfleet. He has never felt this alone, this desolate, even when he was on his own, living day to day, before Christopher Pike found him in a bar.

He still cannot sleep. He hasn’t had more than six hours of shut eye since he went back on the bridge. He has also started avoiding the commissary and the rec room, holing up in his quarters to take whatever meal he can bear to swallow.

And that is where McCoy finds him that night.

The doctor takes one look at Jim’s face and is pushing his way into his quarters, an enraged scowl on his face.

"What the fuck is going on with you, man?"

Jim turns to face him as the door closes. "What are you saying, Bones?"

"What am I saying?" Bones stares at him incredulously. "Have you looked into a mirror lately? You’ve got bags the size of golf balls under your fucking eyes. You’re not sleeping, are you?"

Jim shrugs. "I can’t."

McCoy looks at him closely. "What do you mean you can’t? Why not?" He frowns. "You told me you were fine. That’s why I released you from sickbay."

"I’m fine." Jim raises both arms and lets them drop away as he stares at Bones. His shoulders droop. "I just can’t sleep."

"Fucking moron." McCoy grits his teeth. "Can’t even take care of himself."

Jim gives a laugh, but it sounds hollow. Painful. "Don’t overly concern yourself, Bones, it’s not that important."

"What? Your health is not important?" McCoy growls. "You’re the fucking captain!"

Jim snorts as he turns away from him and goes into his bedroom, his gait sluggish, muttering, "Not for long."

He hears McCoy’s enraged, "What do you mean, not for long?"

"I don’t think I can do this anymore, Bones." He is climbing into his bed, grabbing the pillow and punching it. Listlessly. He can’t even punch a fucking pillow with any ire.

McCoy grabs his shoulder and turns him around to face him. "What is wrong with you?"

Jim should shrug off the hand on his shoulder but he doesn’t even give a fuck about that. "It’s too hard. Nothing makes sense. I can’t take this anymore."

He must’ve struck some nerve because Bones is almost shouting in his face. "Can’t take what?"

"Starfleet. This job" he says to probably the only person who gives a damn about him. But Jim knows Bones shouldn’t bother. He really shouldn’t care. "My life!"

"Jesus Christ," Bones swears and suddenly a hypo appears in his hand out of nowhere which he promptly stabs in Jim’s neck viciously.

"Ow," Jim cries weakly. "What was that for?"

"This is to get you out of this fucking funk you’ve fallen into." McCoy sighs. "Three days ago you told me you were feeling fabulous and your brain scan was lighting up like a fuckin’ Tovarian flea on crack! And today you’re ready to fold everything and resign."

Jim blinks up at him, his mind suddenly feeling foggy, as the drug enters his bloodstream and his brain releases neurotransmitters. "I’m feeling all woozy."

"Good!" Bones scowls down at him as he pushes him down to lie in a supine position. "At least it’ll shut you up about the world coming to an end."

"I hate you," Jim mumbles but his eyes are already closing.

"Yeah, you can hate me when you wake up." He hears Bones’ voice coming from a distance. "Go to sleep now."

And for the first time in days, Jim does as he is told. Under the watchful eyes of his friend, he falls into a deep, drug-induced asleep.

**

Spock is attempting to meditate when he hears his door chime.

He has not found it easy to do so lately. Keeping his mental shields erected against the bond at all times in an arduous task. He has also not been able to sleep properly. The proximity to his bondmate, with their quarters only separated by a bulkhead in between, the strength of the bond overwhelms him. So the lack of rest and the inability to meditate to compensate for that exhaustion has been depleting his energies.

Therefore, it takes him a few moments to come out of the mental space he is in to hear the chime, and by the time he opens his eyes, whoever is at the door is apparently at the end of their patience, obvious by the constant buzzing now sounding from the door. As he gets up from the floor and puts on his robe, he estimates the time to be 1045 hours. He has no idea who could be at the door at this time.

He opens the door to find Dr. McCoy scowling at him.

"You weren’t answering your comm," the doctor says accusingly.

Spock looks at him warily as he lets him come in. "I apologize, Doctor, but I was...occupied and did not hear the chime. Is everything all right?"

"I don’t know." McCoy looks exasperated. "I just wanted to tell you that Jim’s not feeling well, so I’m giving him a day off duty tomorrow." Spock feels himself freeze at the words. "More, if needed. You’ll have to handle ship business yourself until he’s feeling better."

Spock stares at the doctor. "What is wrong with the captain?"

"I have no fucking clue." McCoy seems wound up, his brows scrunched together. "He’s... depressed."

Spock feels his throat tighten. "Depressed?"

"Yeah." McCoy stares at him and then looks around the room. "Why the hell is it so dark in here?"

Depressed. Jim was depressed. Spock stares at the doctor. "I was... attempting to meditate. Computer, lights to 60 percent."

"Now that’s better." McCoy nods and turns back to Spock. He does a double take when he looks closely at Spock. "Wait a minute. What’s wrong?"

Spock is startled. "Wrong?"

McCoy steps closer to him, his eyes probing. "You don’t look too good either. What the hell is going on with you two?"

Spock composes himself quickly, straightening up as he stares at the doctor. "I do not know what you are talking about."

Which is apparently the wrong thing to say, because McCoy suddenly explodes: "Are you hiding something from me too? Because I swear to God, Spock, if you are lying about your health condition then God help us because this ship will not be able to function with both its Captain and First Officer physically or emotionally compromised."

Spock feels his hands clench and puts them behind his back to keep them from view, looking calmly at the McCoy. "I assure you, Doctor, I am fine."

"Yeah, well, you fucking don’t look it." McCoy frowns at him. "You want a sleeping aid? I could ask M’benga to get you something."

"Negative, I do not require medicinal aid, my meditation would suffice." Spock shakes his head. Then he asks him, "Is the captain going to be all right?"

Apparently, mentioning the captain takes the doctor’s focus away from Spock and back to the subject at hand. "I’m not sure." McCoy turns and starts to pace around the room. "I’ve never seen him so down in all the time I’ve known him. I hate to say this but he looks almost... clinically depressed." The doctor is agitated, the lines of his body taut with tension. "He was fine five days ago, so I have no idea what brought this on."

Spock feels alarm descend on him. "Will... you be able to help him?"

"I’ve given him a tranquilizer, but that is only a stopgap measure." The doctor gestures sharply as he walks a few paces, turns, and then walks another few paces, his body language revealing his stress. "To make him well, I’ll have to treat him for whatever has gotten him feeling this way. And I have no clue." But Spock does. He had a very good idea about what had gotten the captain in this state. "Jim’s not the depressed kind," McCoy says. "He’s always hyper-active, on the go, all the time. But he’s almost.... completely distressed right now, which is totally not his style. I’ve been preoccupied the past two days and haven’t had a chance to see him so I had no clue he was feeling this way. If it weren’t for Uhura coming to tell me that he was not looking well, I would not have known."

That tightness in his throat has become a choking constriction. "I am.... most concerned to hear of this."

"Yeah?" McCoy stares at him. "Well, you’re not the only one. But I want you on your feet, feeling fine. This ship needs you, Spock. Jim needs you."

And suddenly Spock has his answer. He knows what to do. He looks at the doctor. "I... will be there for him."

McCoy nods. "I’ll let him sleep off the sedative." He moves towards the door. "He should be out for a good twelve hours."

Spock looks at him. "And after that?"

McCoy stops and looks at him. "After that... we figure out how to help him."



Spock is reeling by the time the door closes and he staggers back to stand in the middle of the room. He feels a tremor go through his frame as he looks down at the floor, his heart beating fast in his side.

He has caused his bondmate distress. Because he has been blocking the bond, Jim is in pain. Emotional distress. His hands curl into fists. How much more damage is he going to cause his bondmate? First he allows himself to invade Jim’s privacy, allows the bond to form without Jim’s knowledge. Then he feeds off on his natural compassion and protectiveness through the bond, a bond of which he is unaware. And now he blocks off the bond and causes Jim to become clinically depressed. How severe it must have been for the crew to have observed it? For Nyota to have noticed.

Spock feels inundated with a sense of absolute dismay at himself.

He turns and faces the viewport, his breath stuttering in his chest, as his feet take him to the cleared space in front that he reserves for meditation. But he doesn’t slide down to face the room. Instead, he stands in front of the viewport, his eyes on the view of space, the stars streaking past at warp. He looks at the blackness of space, the stars sparkling, twinkling strips of light, and raises his arms, pressing his palms against the transparent viewport. He watches the warp trail flickering in the periphery of his vision, similar to the bond that is always there. Burning, iridescent, at the back of his mind. He imagines his bondmate’s presence to be like the stars. Always sparkling, glittering, shining. In the periphery of his consciousness.

He remains standing as he closes his eyes and takes deep breaths to balance himself. Then he reaches inside his mind, across the darkness, as he lifts the block, raising his mental shields as he reaches across to his bondmate. Behind the veil of drugged confusion, induced by the tranquilizer given by Dr. McCoy, he finds a dull, melancholic sadness pervading his bondmate’s mind. He is appalled, cannot believe he did this. There is so much sadness, so much despondency in this place. Such despair as he has never known before. This is not Jim Kirk. This is not his captain. What has he reduced his bondmate to?

He reaches for the bond and almost gasps at what he finds. It looks shriveled, abandoned, lonely. He slowly slides down to his knees, reaches across their shared mental landscape, and touches the bond slowly, gently, lovingly. He sends out a surge of hope, treasure, safety, belonging—all the positive thoughts he can send out. Everything is going to be all right, ashal-veh. You are not alone. He takes the silky strands of the hurt bond in his mental hands and strokes it lovingly. He runs his fingers over it, softly, caressingly, over and over and over, until he feels its luster return, sees the dullness recede. And he’s suddenly flooded by a swell of gratitude and affection, and a sense of unbearable yearning fills his heart.

And he breathes it all in.

He has to keep the bond open. He has tried to block it and seen the consequences. He cannot risk it again. He also does not know how he could ever sever the bond if the need arose. The thought of breaking off that precious link fills him with dread, makes him almost physically ill. He has seen it in its current state, when he reached across his bondmate’s mind when he was in distress. The bond is too well-formed, too strong. Even in its distressed state, the link was solid, alive, injured but surviving. Just like Jim Kirk.

But he knows this is transitional. That it will not last long. He feels cherished and absolutely inundated by warmth in the presence of all these emotions but he knows he only has a short time to enjoy this. How long can he keep this hidden? From his father, from McCoy. From Jim. Sooner or later someone will find out. And when they do, the charade will be over. When Jim finds out, Spock knows he will be rejected.

He knows it won’t be for much longer.

**
End Part 2(a)/4

Go to Part 2(b)/4

Date: 2010-10-02 08:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zephyr-macabee.livejournal.com
Poor Spock, there doesn't seem to be any good answer (except maybe TALK TO JIM, you numbnut!)

Date: 2010-10-04 08:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laylafic.livejournal.com
Hehe.... Tru dat! :D

Date: 2010-10-03 03:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] margarks.livejournal.com
So painful! I think your descriptions of Jim's depression were really vivid. And so true that he would think it was because of something Spock saw in his mind! :( And Spock! Man, he just needs to tell Jim and then he can find out just how much Jim wants it too :)

Date: 2010-10-04 08:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laylafic.livejournal.com
Thank you. I wanted to show how the depression began.... slowly and then became so pronounced.

Date: 2010-10-05 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nudeonthemoon.livejournal.com
AHHHH, poor Jim and Spock!!!

Date: 2010-10-08 11:49 am (UTC)

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